Surrounded by white-sand beaches and undeveloped tropical islands, the port city and beach resort of Sihanoukville (Krong Preah Sihanouk), also known as Kompong Som, is the closest thing you get to the Costa del Cambodia. Visitor numbers have risen steadily in recent years – and are likely to skyrocket if flights to Siem Reap are resumed – but for the time being, despite the boomtown rents, the city and its sandy bits remain pretty laid-back.
Named in honour of the then-king, Sihanoukville was hacked out of the jungle in the late 1950s to create Cambodia’s first and only deep-water port, considered vital so the country’s international trade would no longer have to pass through Vietnam. During the 1960s the city experienced a small tourism boom.
The big attractions around here are the four beaches ringing the headland. None of them qualify as the region’s finest but on weekdays it’s still possible to have stretches of sand to yourself. On weekends and holidays Sihanoukville is extremely popular with well-to-do Phnom Penhers